|Spanish viniculture goes back to 1BC. The Phoenicians founded Cadiz and planted the first vines. Wines from Spain were known and loved among the Greeks and Romans. Spanish wines have been exported since 1492 when the Christians defeated the Moors and ended centuries of gothic rule. Spain wasn't spared from the attack of the phylloxera vastatrix at the end of the 19th century. The wines were forgotten and were only rediscovered in the 1970's. Good quality at reasonable prices gave the wine-industry an upswing.
Spain's landscape is just as multifaceted as the wine assortment. The country can be separated into three rough geographic areas: North (Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Navarra, Penedés), Middle (Valencia, La Mancha, Valdepenas, Alicante), and South (Jerez, Málaga). The temperatures are always higher in the south, the climate drier.
The best wines are from the country's north. In the middle, La Mancha, mostly table wines are made from Airén grapes. Airén has become the most grown vine worldwide. The South is know for its excellent aperitif wines like Sherry, Montilla, and Málaga.
The vines are internationally traditional. The native vines are Tempranillo, Granacha, and Monastrell, Verdejo, Viura, Palomino, Albarino, Malvasia, Moscatel, Prallada, and Xarello.
Wine laws have been in existence since 1972. The Instituto Nacional de Denominaciónes de Origen (I.N.D.O.) oversees the various Denominaciónes de Origen (DO). There are the following four quality levels:
1. DOCa (Denominacion de Origen Calificada)
This highest level is used for 'classified wines with origin designation, and has only found use in Rioja.
2. DO (Denominación de Origen)
This label is for certain areas with controlled origin designation, This classification is equal to the French AOC or the Italian DOC classifications.
3. Vino de la Tierra (country wine)
The origin of country wines must be shown on the label. Vine, method of production, and minimum alcohol content are specified.
4. Vino de Mesa (table wine)
Except for origin within the EU, these wines have no demands to meet.